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CHAPEL NOTES : Regime Change

Our guest speaker at Chapel on 28 July was Quek Tze Ming. He spoke on the topic, "Regime Change?" (Mark 11.1-19).

Jesus' clearing of the temple courts was a symbolic critique and judgment of the present leadership of Jerusalem. We are given an insight into his critique by the words Jesus uses in v. 17:

And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written: "'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations' ? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"

It is clear that proper usage of the temple had been frustrated. But what exactly is the problem? In what way is the Jerusalem temple a "temple of robbers"?

There are two quotations that Jesus has joined together. The first is taken from Isa 56.7. This is a quote from a grand section in Isaiah describing how the non-Jews will be accepted as part of God's people when they bind themselves to YHWH. The temple will be a house of prayer for all nations. But Jesus found that under this regime, the court had become a smelly, noisy public market. There was no where that the Gentiles could worship. In this way, the Jerusalem regime had robbed the Gentiles of their God-given right to worship YHWH. They had made the temple-worship only for the Jews. They had made it a religion that was inward-looking.

Not only that, it seems obvious that some of the regime leadership were in on the profits as well. Exorbitant prices were charged for money changing and the sale of birds. What was supposed to have been for the convenience of the pilgrims was soon turned into lucrative business. High prices were charged, and people had no choice to but to pay. This business could only have taken place with the collusion of the high priests, and there is some evidence to suggest some of these high priestly families became immensely rich from this business. In this way, the Jerusalem regime robbed the people. They had made it a religion for profit.

They had also made it a religion of comfort and presumption. Look at how Jesus combined his Isaiah quote with one from Jeremiah 7.11. He says you have made the temple into a den of robbers. This quote is taken from a great sermon preached at the gate of the temple by the prophet Jeremiah some 600 years before Jesus' time. Jeremiah tells the people that YHWH wants them to reform their ways and their actions. He warns them not to keep saying "This is the temple of the Lord (X3)" as if that would be any guarantee against God's judgment. Jeremiah's point is that nobody is safe if you keep doing such detestable things. Nobody. Not even in this house, in this temple. This is Jeremiah's message to Jerusalem leading up to the destruction of the first temple in 586 BC, and Jesus takes over the same message in the first century. Jesus is telling Jerusalem not to assume that God is going to rubber-stamp everything they do just because they do it in God's name or just because it takes place on holy real estate. Jesus is telling Jerusalem: Don't think you're exempt from God's standards. Don't think you're immune from God's judgment.

These then are Jesus' critiques of the Jerusalem regime leadership:

  • By making their religion one that was inward looking - they had robbed the Gentiles. 

  • By making it a religion for profit - they had robbed the people.

  • But worst of all, by making it a religion of comfort and presumption - they had robbed God for his right to challenge their choices and lifestyles.

It is no wonder then that Jesus calls for Regime Change. The present regime had degenerated into a religion of inwardness, profit, and presumption. If it continued in its present course, Jerusalem would be heading towards disaster. It would be heading towards judgment, of which Jesus' clearing of the temple was a foretaste. In case we still don't get the point, Mark surrounds the cleansing of the temple is surrounded by the account of the cursing of the fig tree. The fig tree is a traditional OT symbol of Israel. Israel the fig-tree produces no fruit, and it is cursed. Judgment is coming. Only by accepting Jesus as her king, her Messiah, would that disaster be averted. Only by following the way of the kingdom would the people show that they are truly God's people.

This is the sobering message of Regime Change. And it is a message also for our times too.

Jesus comes to us, as he did that first Palm Sunday and challenges us. Who is he? He is king and he is Lord. Not me. Not us. What does it mean to follow him? It means rejecting the ways of being inward looking, and accepting a life oriented towards bringing the gospel to those on the outside. It means rejecting the ways of profit, and accepting a life dedicated to service and giving. It means rejecting the ways of presumption, and accepting a life open to the risk of trusting in Jesus, and listening to his correction and challenge.

In other words, we undergo Regime Change.  

NOTE: Chapel Speaker on 11 August will be Rev C.V. John, who directs the New Life Ministries in India and is based in the USA. We welcome you, Rev. John!


It started with a suggestion by some students who asked whether or not BGST organizes mission trips, to which the Dean excitedly replied in the affirmative. This was followed by the usual question: “Any credits given?” Silence. Well, such trips might be acceptable as field trips for courses on missions or for Field Education.

Last week the students were pleasantly surprised by the announcement that indeed a field trip was being planned to Indonesia for August 18-20, barely two weeks away. Taking advantage of the limited offer of cheap airfares - we had only two days to respond and so there was no time to pass the word around - we were able to gather together a group of 8 students who will be led by the Dean on a special visit to a Bible School located at Jonggol in Bogor District, West Java. The Sekolah Tinggi Teologia Citra Abdiel (STTCA) is a project of the Zion B-P Church. After some 30 years of church planting in Indonesia and involvement at two Bible Schools, it became clear to our Dean that training was urgently needed to prepare evangelists to serve in unevangelized areas in Indonesia where religious militancy prevails. The existing schools were not producing enough missionaries who need to be equipped to serve in a contextualized setting.  

STTCA currently has about 90 students. We will go as a team to conduct a full day of teaching, with sessions thrown in for fellowship and fun. Using notes prepared by our Dean on “Walk Through Romans” we will introduce this novel method of understanding the Bible. After the Dean has introduced his “Short Walk”, our team will train the students (through interpreters) on the “Long Walk”. Each student will present a short segment of Romans and the Dean will complete the presentation by bringing together the various segments into one cohesive whole, taking pains to apply the message of Romans to Christian living in Indonesia. For this aspect the faculty of STTCA will be roped in to make what hopefully by the grace of God will be an enjoyable time of learning. Romans is a key book in the New Testament. It presents the truth of the Gospel in a most poignant manner. Romans, “the Gospel according to Paul”, has an enduring message for all ages. For almost 2000 years it has brought inspiration, joy, comfort to many.  

Dr Quek will preach at a Thanksgiving Service attended by Christian leaders from Jakarta and BGST students will present a musical item. The students of STTCA will be dressed in their ethnic costumes. Pray for the BGST Mission Team that it may be a blessing to many.


Letter to the Editor. We are please to share with our readers the following email from Huang Hong who responded to Dr Quek’s write-up on “The BGST Difference” in BGST This Week No.27, 12-18 July:

“I am new to BGST.  So reading your reflections concerning "the reason for being" of BGST, was a good introduction. I am doing my Master of Education: Leadership and Management programme and am naturally drawn to the things you wrote. Particularly interesting are the programmes that are offered at BGST which not only allows full-time working people to be engaged in biblical studies but also sets the platform for busy people to do these courses without leaving their jobs. This change in paradigm is an encouraging departure to the way students of the Bible are normally being trained.  Remaining employed and doing serious studies of the Bible concurrently not only gives a real-life learning and experience-based platform but allows for the possible infusion of inter-disciplinary and multi-dimensional insights to both worlds (spiritual & the marketplace).

“I am saddened that many theological graduates I have met from the traditional approach are not cognizant of world issues.  Their views are so simplistic, even naive, that I fear they are not going to be very effective in ministry (in this globalised age). Most are narrow, have no interest in world affairs and some don't even have other interests/hobbies beyond their duties in the church!

“Hope what you have beautifully written will translate to real behavioural changes in the lives of the staff and students at BGST.”

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A Blessed Birthday to ...


Ms Joyce Wee  9/8

Ms Teoh Cheng Ping  9/8

Mr David Leong Wai Yin  10/8

Mr Ong Teck Chye  10/8

Dr Aquila Lee  10/8

Ms Daisy Sim  11/8

Mr Ong Hock Chye  11/8

Mr Benjamin Lee  14/8

Mr Edwin Chee  14/8

Mr Koe Hung Tatt  15/8

Ms Ming Feong Ching  15/8

Mr Immanuel Andrew  15/8

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